Amitabh Bachchan the most sought after star in the Indian film scene acts in the film “Paa” as a 13 year old schoolkid suffering from progeria an uncurable and a severe genetic condition where a body grows 4 to 5 times faster than normal. Such patients die around the age of 18 to 24 years is an extremely rare condition that probably affects one per eight million live births. Amitabh called Auro in the film depicts the walk very well and dances with very innovative gestures which has catapulted his acting prowess to still greater heights. Its no surprise therefore that he has already been awarded the Filmfare award for the best actor (male) of 2009. Filmfare award is as iconic as the Oscars. Shah Rukh Khan acts Rizwan with Asperger’s syndrome which is a high-functioning form of autism and those living with it have much more cognitive and speech development than many others who suffer from autism. Karan Johar the other producer apart from SRK knew this, and did not opt for autism which would have limited Mr Khan’s acting prowess. Needless to say Mr Shah Rukh Khan is also going to walk away with most of the awards for the year 2010. Made with a budget of of Rs 55 crore, the film “My name is Khan” and I am not a terrorist has already collected Rs 150 crore in the first week of its release in India and overseas say the trade papers here.”Paa” made with a very tight budget of about Rs 15 crore has already recovered the cost and is making profits. Disability , these days it seems, is selling well at the box office. But the debate whether disability is being used or abused? Well according to many trade and film analysts the trend started with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black where Rani Mukherjee acts the deaf-mute girl and Amitabh suffers from memory loss. The movie made on a shoe string budget went on to make a huge profits besides accolades for the actors for their wonderful portrayals. Following on Aamir Khan directorial debut in 2007 with the film “Taare zameen par” which had Darsheel daftary act a schoolkid suffering from dyslexia. Aamir the great actor that he is, followed it up with Ghajini a gory bloody revenge set apart by the hero’s inability to remember anything beyond 10 minutes – i.e anterograde amnesia. The movie was made with around Rs 45 crore but raked in Rs 150 crores upwards. We had Shahid Kapur stammering and lisping In Kaminey followed by the very latestKarthik calling Karthik where schizophrenia comes calling… Are all these films based on syndromes any original ideas of the Indian film producers…Paa owes the storyline from Jack, “My name is Khan” to Rainman, “Ghajini” rips off from Memento and Black to Hellen keeler’s biography “The story of my life” Now some feel that the string of disability based films coming out of the Bollywood factory are manipulative, commercial ventures but others like Krishna roy, an autism consultant welcomes such movies especially if it has bigger stars because bigger stars have bigger impacts. “Taare zammen par” definitely had a greater impact. Children earlier who struggled to cope up with studies or exams are now been given special classes after school to catch up with the rest and that truly is reaping fruits” says a school principal In Ranchi . She further adds” Though films must sell but movies based on disability these days are combining business with greater responsibilities. The latest film to come out of the bollywood factory is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Guzaarish” starring Roshan and Ashwariaya Rai bachchan. This latest lyrical cinema has a spinal chord defect related man who teaches the world to live life King size inspite of the handicap. A seminar or a workshop earlier on topics related to infections, syndromes, disorders would not draw more than ten people now with films dealing in such traumatic themes – turn them misty eyed and willing to go an extra mile to help such patients especially women and children. Hollywood! have you understood the new formula? Or has hollywood or for that matter Bollywood moved on to a different formula, probably the clue could be found at the latest oscars…….But “Avataar” you were awesome.
Cover of My Name Is Khan